Posts Tagged ‘Lou Reed’

Sleeve for Lou Reed's Transformer

Commercial success and critical acclaim together or apart are not really the true measure of an artist’s work. History and public acceptance can ‘transform’ the perspective and create a re-evaluation, or revisionist history towards how the art is viewed. No other work quite typifies this more than Lou Reed with his second solo effort “Transformer”.

Transformer is an incarnation of Reed at his most tuneful and accessible, just right for an almost-teenager. Just wrong, you might say. If the swooping basslines and whooping choruses drew me in, the lyrics kept me riveted and puzzling. “Shaved her legs and then he was a she” I could work out. But what was the “Up-all-oh”? “Angel dust”? “Giving head”? What about “hustler”? Oh, how Google would have helped me then

With the Velvet Underground, Reed became a beacon to the outsider experience and while album sales were low, critics and musicians had found a kind of anti-hero on whom to heap praise. Once the Velvets had broken up, Reed continued his stories and of counter-culture misfits but to a more commercialized effect on Transformer. Produced by David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson, Transformer would be heavily influenced by Bowie’s then ‘glam’ movement and blur the same androgynous lines can be heard singing backing vocals (his falsetto seems obvious on Satellite of Love, . However, Reed would use his own brand of wry observation and deadpan delivery to create characters that lived with and amongst his crowd as opposed to embodying the characters space as Bowie did with Ziggy and Aladdin Sane.

As with its predecessor Lou Reed, Transformer contains songs Reed composed while still in the Velvet Underground (here, four out of ten). “Andy’s Chest” was first recorded by the band in 1969 and “Satellite of Love” demoed in 1970; these versions were released on VU and Peel Slowly and See, respectively. For Transformer, the original up-tempo pace of these songs was slowed down.

“New York Telephone Conversation” and “Goodnight Ladies” are known to have been played live during the band’s summer 1970 residency at Max’s Kansas City; the latter takes its title refrain from the last line of the second section (“A Game of Chess”) of T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land: “Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.”, which is itself a quote from Ophelia in Hamlet.

As in Reed’s Velvet Underground days, the connection to artist Andy Warhol remained strong. According to Reed, Warhol told him he should write a song about someone vicious. When Reed asked what he meant by vicious, Warhol replied, “Oh, you know, like I hit you with a flower”,resulting in the song “Vicious”.

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Oddly, it was “Walk On The Wild Side” a song that spoke of transsexuality, oral sex and drug use that propelled the album to heights neither seen by the Velvet Underground or Reed himself in previous efforts. It wouldn’t be until the 1990’s that “Perfect Day” would become an underground hit. The supposed ode to his drug habit, Perfect Day, only works because, no matter who the song is dedicated to, it is a beautiful ballad. Then there is the epic, neon-drenched goodbye to his association with Andy Warhol and his factory acolytes,

On its release in 1972, Transformer was given mixed reviews by critics who claimed it was overly “art-y” and overly sexual. History of course has shed new light and Transformer has made just about every magazines ‘Best All-Time’ list. There was a BBC documentary devoted entirely to Walk on the Wild Side. My questions were answered. There was Holly, who did indeed “come from Miami FLA”. It turned out “Up-all-oh” was the Apollo theatre in Harlem, and “Sugar Plum fairy” a drug dealer. Though Candy and Jackie had departed this world, Joe Dallesandro was there, wistfully contemplating wasted opportunities. And then there was Lou – decked out in leather jacket and leathery skin – complaining about people using Walk on the Wild Side without permission.

Despite, or maybe due to its recognition, finding vinyl editions of Transformer is pretty easy, but figuring out what works best for you might get a little more difficult. You can find used copies pretty much anywhere. I’m sure a lot of people who bought Transformer to get similar material to “Walk On The Wild Side” only to find that it wasn’t like that. As for new, eight official vinyl editions have come out since 2004 with four in just the last three years. On RSD 2012 a straight re-issue was put out in record stores, and is still the most common new copy you will find. In 2013 – 2014 unofficial green and blue versions were released in the UK. Finally, a few weeks ago Newbury Comics put out a Limited Edition half black and half gold version. There were 1200 copies printed and each was gold stamp numbered.

Due to the sheer amount of what is available, you can get most copies of Transformer for less than $30.00 (including the unofficial UK copies). Only the Newbury edition is commanding high prices on the resale market, and that’s pretty damn silly, because you can still get a copy from Newbury for less than $30.00. The split colour looks awesome and indeed sounds great.

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You can get it here. Anyway, with his recent induction into the “Rock Hall of fame” you can expect some renewed interest and copies of Transformer may begin to disappear. You might want to give that some thought this time if you’ve been sitting on the fence.

Last November, on the 45th anniversary of Lou Reed’s legendary Transformer album, photographer Mick Rock joined Rolling Stone editor David Fricke in a conversation for readers at the New York Public Library. Marking the anniversary, Mick kindly signed 45 bookplates specially for readers around the globe. Accordingly, 45 Collector copies are now available, each additionally including:

  • The new 24-page booklet with an essay by Mick Rock and 50 previously unpublished photographs
  • The looseleaf ‘Rock and Roll Heart’ facsimile handwritten lyric sheet
  • The commemorative New York Public Library bookplate signed by Mick Rock on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Transformer
  • Transformer book bag and publishing prospectus

Transformer

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In the run-up to the release of ‘Do Angels Need Haircuts? Early Poems by Lou Reed’, we explore the music icon’s gift for penning verse . In August 1970, when he was 28 years old, Lou Reed quit The Velvet Underground and moved back into his parents’ home in Long Island, where he stayed for the better part of a year in seclusion to write poetry. He vowed never to play rock and roll again and focussed on writing verse which eventually found its way into the pages of Rolling Stone, in addition to smaller poetry zines like The Harvard Advocate, The World, Fusion, The Unmuzzled Ox, and Cold Spring Journal.

“I’m a poet,” Reed publicly declared on March 10th, 1971, as he took to the stage of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, New York. Standing before the likes Allen Ginsberg and Ted Berrigan, who smiled in support, Reed recited a selection of new poems along with the lyrics by The Velvet Underground.

Six months later, Reed began recording Transformer, his debut solo album produced by David Bowie and arranged by Mick Ronson. But his time away from the limelight was not in vain for it had solidified Reed’s gift for penning lyrical verse that lived on the page – and sometime later in song.

In 1974, Reed compiled All the Pretty People, a book of poetry that was never published. It is only now that his verse has been unearthed, collected, and released in Do Angels Need Haircuts? Early Poems by Lou Reed (Anthology Editions, May 1). The book includes 7” record of the 1971 live reading along with a foreword by Anne Waldman, an afterword by Laurie Anderson, archival notes by Don Fleming, and photographs by Mick Rock.

Here, Fleming provides a five-point guide to the poetry of this music icon.

The rock star as recluse

“Although this mysterious period between The Velvet Underground and his first solo album isn’t as documented as other periods, we know that Lou Reed moved home to regroup. He needed some time off to gather himself and decide where he was going. I don’t think at the time anyone saw what The Velvet Underground was as a huge success. I don’t think Lou was convinced that was going to be his career (laughs). I think he had always fought the idea that he should be a writer and not a rock and roll singer. His lyrics for The Velvet Underground were above and beyond what most people were writing and I think it was drowned out a bit by the chaos of the music. He was serious about poetry and wanted to make a go of it.”

Life as a source for verse

“Spirited Leaves of Autumn directly references his time in college and Delmore Schwartz, his professor and mentor at Syracuse University. It’s an amazing narrative story done in the way that only Lou can create: he invokes Finnegan’s Wake, James Joyce, and people like Sweet Michael, who committed suicide by leaping in front of a train. The poem was a way of putting together his life experience. When you hear Lou reciting the poem, it comes alive in a whole different way.”

The quiet recital

“What’s notable about the performance is that it was a little awkward for him. Lou starts off the reading by having people yelling to be louder because there was no microphone; he was just at a podium. It was his first time and you could tell that he was a bit tentative. He was much more comfortable in the character he is on stage than he was in revealing himself in this way. A lot of the audience wasn’t there to see him succeed as a poet; they were there to see what would happen. People were not very vocal or encouraging. The reaction of the crowd was on the quiet side, with polite, occasional applause.”

The Murder Mysteries explained

Lou read Velvet Underground lyrics including The Murder Mysteries. As a song it was hard to listen to because two people were talking at once in two different speakers. At the reading, he explained that one side is a manifesto about everything that bothered him and then, on the other side he declared himself the king and meted out his punishment. He saw the song as a concrete poem where you would have a poem where the lyrics were printed over each other. It was always part of his creative nature to approach his lyric writing as poetry.”

Where did All the Pretty People go?

Lou put together a manuscript with 33 poems laid out in four chapters. Most of it is typewritten and some of it is handwritten with scratched out with notes here and there. We have the letter he sent to the publisher and the letter that came back to him that said, ‘At this time we are not interested in doing this.’ We don’t see any indication that he went anywhere else with it. I find it interesting that he didn’t publish it, even later on when he could have easily put it out.”

Poems from All the Pretty People featured in Do Angels Need Haircuts? include LipstickForce ItWhiskeyBad TripDo Angels Need Haircuts?Since Half the World is H2OThe Murder Mystery, and a slight variation on He Thought of Love in the Lazy Darkness.

Ezra Furman at Bowery Ballroom

Ezra Furman, currently on tour behind his latest release Transangelic Exodus, stopped by NYC’s Brooklyn Steel . Playing in front of a beautifully-designed set backdrop, Ezra played many cuts from the new record, such as the driving “Suck the Blood from My Wound” and anthemic single “Love You So Bad.” Ezra also played some older favorites like “My Zero,” and covered Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love.”

Furman, who has released solo albums as well as albums with his bands Ezra Furman and the Harpoons and Ezra Furman and the Boy-Friends, identifies as gender fluid. A musician himself, he seems the ideal writer for an exploration into the many iterations of Lou Reed’s persona.

Ezra Furman has also penned the most recent installment in the 33 1/3 book series, which focuses on Lou Reed‘s classic album “Transformer”. Here’s the book’s official synopsis:

Transformer, Lou Reed’s most enduringly popular album, is described with varying labels: it’s often called a glam rock album, a proto-punk album, a commercial breakthrough for Lou Reed, and an album about being gay. And yet, it doesn’t neatly fit into any of these descriptors. Buried underneath the radio-friendly exterior lie coded confessions of the subversive, wounded intelligence that gives this album its staying power as a work of art. Here Lou Reed managed to make a fun, accessible rock’n’roll record that is also a troubled meditation on the ambiguities-sexual, musical and otherwise-that defined his public persona and helped make him one of the most fascinating and influential figures in rock history. Through close listening and personal reflections, songwriter Ezra Furman explores Reed’s and Transformer‘s unstable identities, and the secrets the songs challenge us to uncover.

Ezra Furman will be in Austin next week for SXSW, Ezra is also part of Willie Nelson’s “Luck Reunion” fest at his ranch during SXSW.

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Rhino isn’t holding back this Record Store Day, planning more than 30 special vinyl releases for Saturday, April 21st, to be sold at all participating retailers. Interestingly, several releases are companion pieces to recent general reissues, offering bonus content from different re-releases and box sets as standalone vinyl. Several singles and oddities are in the mix, from a 12″ of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,” to a rare “short version” of Prince’s 1999, featuring only seven tracks from the album on one LP. Picture discs from Yes, Whitesnake, and Cheech & Chong are part of the line-up, and outtakes will be used to create alternate versions of Van Morrison’s Moondance and Fleetwood Mac’s Tango In The Night.

Most interesting for collectors are not one but two reproductions of rare Madonna vinyl releases outside the U.S., the vinyl debut of a promo collection by British hip-hop artist The Streets, unreleased mid-’80s masters from Miles Davis and a pair of vinyl sets covering new and old remixes by The Cure.

Among these titles, announced on Tuesday, now stand alongside previously announced RSD exclusives for Led Zeppelin (their first) and David Bowie. More RSD info is at the organization’s official site, while breakdowns of all Rhino’s new titles are below.

Air, Sexy Boy (12″ Picture Disc) (Parlophone)
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the French synth duo’s debut, Moon Safari, with this shaped picture disc of the band’s first single. It features art from the original 12″ sleeve. (6000 copies)

Cheech & ChongUp In Smoke (40th Anniversary Picture Disc) (Rhino)
This marijuana leaf-shaped disc features the title track to the comedy duo’s first film (the soundtrack of which is being reissued by Rhino the same week) plus an unreleased version with an extra Spanish verse from Cheech Marin as well as a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker! (4500 copies)

John Coltrane, My Favorite Things, Part I & II (Atlantic)
This U.S.-only single reissue was first included in a Coltrane mono box set. (1000 copies)

The Cure, Mixed Up and Torn Down: Mixed Up Extras 2018 (Elektra)
Long desired by fans of The Cure, the group’s 1990 remix album will be released as a 2LP picture disc set alongside another double picture disc featuring 16 new remixes of Cure tracks by frontman Robert Smith. The band is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, so hopefully this is the first in a wave of commemorative titles! (7750 copies each)

Miles Davis, Rubberband EP (Warner Bros.)
This four-track 12″ disc features the title song to an unreleased 1985 album, intended to be Miles’ first for Warner Bros. Records after a lengthy tenure on Columbia. It features a new remix featuring Ledisi, a completed version of the track finished by Randy Hall and Zane Giles, and cover art painted by Davis. (6000 copies)

The Doors, Live At The Matrix Part 2: Let’s Feed Ice Cream To The Rats, San Francisco, CA – March 7 & 10, 1967 (Elektra)
This 180-gram, individually numbered sequel to last year’s RSD release features a set from the band at San Francisco’s The Matrix, which was last heard on a 50th anniversary edition of The Doors’ self-titled debut. (13,000 copies)

Fleetwood Mac, The Alternate Tango In The Night (Warner Bros.)
As is becoming tradition for Record Store Day, this album brings together demos and outtakes from last year’s box set version of Fleetwood Mac’s hit 1987 album. (8500 copies)

The Grateful Dead, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA 2/27/69 (Grateful Dead/Rhino)
A 4LP box set edition (with fourth side etching) of a beloved Dead show, which has been out of print since its release in The Complete Fillmore West 1969 CD box set in 2005. (9000 copies)

Hawkwind, Dark Matter: The Alternative Liberty/U.A. Years 1970-1974 (Parlophone)
A 2LP collection in a gatefold jacket featuring rare tracks from the 2011 compilation Parallel Universe. (5000 copies)

Jethro Tull, Moths (Parlophone)
This six-track 10″ EP is tied to the 40th anniversary of Heavy Horses, recently reissued by Rhino. (6500 copies)

Madonna, The First Album and You Can Dance (Sire)
Two exciting Madonna titles are due for Record Store Day: first, a picture disc version of Madonna’s 1983 debut, reissued in 1985 after the success of Like a Virgin. This set replicates the original Japanese packaging, down to the sticker. Then there’s a red vinyl reissue of her 1987 remix album, featuring the poster and obi from the European vinyl release. (14,000 copies and 12,000 copies)

Van Morrison, The Alternative Moondance (Warner Bros.)
Constructed from alternates and outtakes from the deluxe edition of Van’s 1970 album, this LP features unreleased mixes of “And It Stoned Me” and “Crazy Love.” (10,000 copies)

The Notorious B.I.G., Juicy 12″ (Bad Boy)
A clear/black marble swirl vinyl reissue of Biggie’s defining single. (9000 copies)

Prince, 1999 (Warner Bros.)
A quirky reissue of an ex-U.S. single-LP, seven-track cutdown of Prince’s breakthrough 1982 double album, with a different cover, even. (13,000 copies)

Ramones, Sundragon Sessions (Sire)
These early mixes of tracks from Leave Home were first heard in the 40th anniversary box set of the album and appear on vinyl for the first time. (10,000 copies)

Lou Reed, Animal Serenade (Sire)
A 3LP edition of Lou’s 2003 live album, its first appearance on vinyl. (7500 copies)

The Stooges, The Stooges (Detroit Edition) (Elektra)
This 2LP set was first made available only at Third Man Record shops (it was compiled by the label’s own Ben Blackwell), but now this collection, featuring the band’s 1969 debut album and handpicked rarities from Rhino’s 2010 deluxe edition, is available at all indie stores. (8000 copies)

Various Artists, Twin Peaks: Music From The Limited Event Series and Twin Peaks: Limited Event Series Soundtrack (Rhino)
These two picture discs feature soundtrack and score, respectively, from the acclaimed 2017 revival of David Lynch’s television series, including Roadhouse band performances and original compositions by Angelo Badadamenti. (11,000 copies and 10,000 copies)

Whitesnake, 1987 (30th Anniversary Edition) (Parlophone)
A picture disc version of the rock group’s recently reissued hit LP, featuring “Here I Go Again.” (6500 copies)

Wilco, Live At The Troubadour 11/12/96 (Reprise)
The premiere 2LP edition of a live set included in the deluxe edition of the alt-country act’s Being There, reissued last year. (8500 copies)

Yes (Atlantic)
The legendary prog-rock’s ninth album, released in 1978, gets a picture disc release. (5400 copies)

Lou Reed - Street Hassle front cover.jpg

Street Hassle is the eighth solo album by rock icon Lou Reed, originally released on Arista Records. The album is notable as the first commercially released  pop album to employ binaural recording technology.

Arguably, Street Hassle – the apogee of Reed’s adventures in the New York junkie underworld, made up of three “movements” , The first part is titled “Waltzing Matilda” but has nothing to do with the Australian song of the same name; we’re guessing the title stuck with him after Australian tours in both ’74 and ’77. Street Hassle and Slipaway. But each movement bleeds into and informs the other, adding up to a stark meditation on the fragility of human life. Besides, if the track ended after the second movement, with an overdose victim’s corpse dumped unceremoniously in the street, it would simply be too harrowing; instead, a ruminative coda – with guest vocals from Bruce Springsteen – provides a sliver of solace. Ultimately, though, the message is heart-wrenchingly bleak, with Bruce adapting the words of Born To Run to fit Lou’s more pessimistic worldview: “Tramps like us, we were born to pay.” this amazing rock opera written in 1978 by the best living rock songwriter, the NYC man Lou Reed. The song is divided into three parts (Walzing Matilda, Street Hassle, Slip Away), which have all the same music structure that meets first the orchestra, then acoustic guitars and rock bass guitars, and at the end the prayer of a penitent man, made of tears..

This was Lou’s eighth solo album, and one of many a fan’s favourites, “Street Hassle” is most often noted for its epic three-part title track.  As was common on ‘70s Lou Reed solo albums, Street Hassle contained a song originally written during his days in the Velvet Underground—in this case, “Real Good Time Together” (which more recently Patti Smith had been using as a set opener) – and the album the first pop album to employ binaural recording technology aka Dummy Head Recording, a recording technique that sounds so odd we suggest you look it up.

Street Hassle combines live concert tapes and studio recordings. All of the songs on Street Hassle were written by Lou Reed, The album was met with mostly positive reviews, Its Raw, wounded, and unapologetically difficult, Street Hassle isn’t the masterpiece Reed was shooting for, but it’s still among the most powerful and compelling albums he released during the 1970s, and too personal and affecting to ignore.

This 3 x CD Collection brings together a set of rare recordings by the Velvets, 50 plus years (for most) after they were first made and which will complete collections worldwide for the millions of fans still flying the flag for this strange collective. Everything about The Velvet Underground was astonishing. Take a female drummer with one beat (Mo Tucker), a classically trained Welshman (John Cale), a blonde German beauty who couldn’t sing (Nico), and two buddies from Syracuse University (Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed) who all came together as a band formed to promote Lou’s song ‘The Ostrich’.

Add another blonde who painted soup cans, a name derived from a novel about sado-masochism and Verve as a major label, and you arrive at the Velvet Underground, a band who rewrote the rules for music as we know it.

CD ONE features rehearsals for the band s first album, bizarrely broadcast across radio waves at the time, and which give a sense of quite how that seismic album came to be. The first disc also includes three rare live cuts recorded in NYC the same year.

CD TWO includes the group s show at La Cave in Cleveland, Ohio on 2nd October 1968, by which time John Cale had been fired from the group and had just been replaced by Doug Yule for this show.

CD THREE contains the concert given by Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris on 19th January 1972, a show as legendary as the band whose name remains the starting point for all modern music.

White Light/White Heat Magazine Ad

Recorded in a short flurry of studio sessions in September 1967, and released on January 30th, 1968, White Light/White Heat the band’s final studio album with co-founder and multi-instrumentalist John Cale  boasted none of the louche charm of the Velvets’ 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico; nor, for that matter, did it contain any of the hushed melodicism heard on the band’s self-titled 1969 LP, and it was utterly devoid of any instant classic-rock anthems . With its needle-pinning assault of overdriven instruments, and lyrics about methamphetamine abuse (the title track), botched medical procedures (“Lady Godiva’s Operation”), grisly violence (“The Gift”), cries from beyond the grave (“I Heard Her Call My Name”) and heroin-dealing drag queens (“Sister Ray”), White Light/White Heat was all about pushing the boundaries of sound and taste. Even 50 years after its initial release, it remains a bracing and challenging listen. “It’s a very rabid record,” Cale opined in the liner notes to the 1995 box set Peel Slowly and See. “The first one had some gentility, some beauty. The second one was consciously anti-beauty.”

BY MID-1967, ONLY a few months after The Velvet Underground’s debut album was released, their iconic ice queen singer Nico was a solo artist, and pop art svengali Andy Warhol was no longer managing and feeding the group. Warhol’s parting gift: the all-black cover idea for their follow-up – the album they would name “White Light/White Heat”. Meanwhile, the band scrabbled to survive in the drug-soaked art-scene demi-monde of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

“Our lives were chaos,” VU guitarist Sterling Morrison told me in 1994. “Things were insane, day in and day out: the people we knew, the excesses of all sorts. For a long time, we were living in various places, afraid of the police. At the height of my musical career, I had no permanent address.”

There were mounting internal tensions, too, over direction and control between Lou Reed and John Cale, the group’s founders, especially after their debut album’s failure to launch. “White Light/White Heat was definitely the raucous end of what we did,” Morrison affirmed. But, he insisted, “We were all pulling in the same direction. We may have been dragging each other off a cliff, but we were definitely all going in the same direction.”

From that turbulence and frustration, Reed, Cale, Morrison and drummer Moe Tucker created their second straight classic. Where The Velvet Underground And Nico was a demonstration of breadth and vision, developed in near-invisibility even before the band met Warhol  “We rehearsed for a year for that album, without doing anything else,” Cale claims  “White Light/White Heat” was a more compact whiplash: the exhilarating guitar violence starting with the title track, peaking in Reed’s atonal-flamethrower solo in I Heard Her Call My Name; the experimental sung and spoken noir of Lady Godiva’s Operation and The Gift; the propulsive, distorted eternity of sexual candour and twilight drug life, rendered dry and real in Reed’s lethal monotone, in Sister Ray.

“By this time, we were a touring band,” Cale explains. “And the sound we could get on stage – we wanted to get that on the record. In some performances, Moe would go up first, start a backbeat, then I would come out and put a drone on the keyboard. Sterling would start playing, then Lou would come out, maybe turn into a Southern preacher at the mike. That idea of us coming out one after the other, doing whatever we wanted, that individualism – it’s there on Sister Ray, in spades.”

White Light/White Heat was also the Velvets’ truest record, the most direct, uncompromised document of their deep, personal connections to New York’s avant-garde in the mid-’60s; the raw, independent cinema of Jack Smith, Jonas Mekas and Piero Heliczer; Cale’s pre-Velvets experiences in drone, improvisation and radical composition with John Cage and the early minimalists La Monte Young and Tony Conrad; Reed’s dual immersion, from his days at Syracuse University, in the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and the metropolitan-underworld literature of William Burroughs and Hubert Selby, Jr.

largely ignored by the music press at the time, White Light/White Heat would prove profoundly influential upon such artists as the Stooges, David Bowie, Jonathan Richman, Suicide, the Buzzcocks and a little band called Nirvana, to name a few – and in 2003, Rolling Stone ranked White Light/White Heat at Number 293 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album has also gained new fans over the years via various reissues, and will surely make some additional converts via its inclusion in Verve Records/UMe’s forthcoming 180-gram vinyl box set, The Velvet Underground, which drops February 23rd and will contain “definitive stereo editions” of the band’s four studio albums, as well as Nico’s 1967 album Chelsea Girl, and a two-LP recreation of the band’s much-mythologized “lost” album from 1969.

The White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe edition. Includes mono mix, outtakes and full live set from The Gymnasium, New York, April 30th, 1967.

White/Light Super Deluxe Edition 2013
Test Pressing White Light/White Heat
Test pressing of Lady Godiva’s Operation, the “experimental noir” from the White Light/White Heat sessions.

“I’m in there with a B.A. in English – I’m no naif,” Reed said shortly before his death. “And being in with that crowd, the improvisers, the film-makers, of course it would affect where I was going. We said it a hundred times; people thought we were being arrogant and conceited. We’re reading those authors, watching those Jack Smith movies. What did you think we were going to come out with?”

The Velvet Underground White Light/White Heat

The Velvet Underground as they were on the eve of White Light/White Heat’s release. from top left: Maureen “Moe” Tucker, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale.
The Velvets were also a rock band, with roots in that ferment but ambitions charged by the other modern action around them. “There was close competition with Bob Dylan,” Cale admits. “He was getting into people’s heads. We thought we could do that.”“Maybe our frustrations led the way,” Morrison said of White Light/White Heat. “But we were already pretty much into it. We had good amps, good distortion devices. We were the first American band to have an endorsement deal with Vox.” The album, he contended, “was just us using the Vox amps and playing them emphatically.”“They say rock is life-affirming music,” Reed says. “You feel bad, you put on two minutes of this – boom. There’s something implicit in it. And we were the best, the real thing. You listen to the Gymnasium tape [the live set included with the Deluxe reissue], this album – there is the real stuff. It’s aggressive, yes. But it’s not aggressive-bad. This is aggressive, going to God.”
Lou Reed

LOU REED  : 1942-2013. Guitarist/vocalist and primary songwriter. “No one censured it,” he said of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT. “Because no one listened to it.”

John Cale

JOHN CALE : Bass guitar/viola/keyboards. The classically trained Welshman provided the deadpan monologue for The Gift: “Everyone was hellbent on being heard.”

Sterling Morrison

STERLING MORRISON : 1942-1995. Guitar and “medical sound effects” on Lady Godiva’s Operation: “Maybe our frustrations led the way.”

Moe Tucker

MOE TUCKER : Drums. Provider of the group’s relentless, unfussy propulsion. “The songs were the songs,” she drily notes.

Andy Warhol

 In September 1967 at Mayfair Studios – located on Seventh Avenue near Times Square and the only eight-track operation in town – The Velvet Underground put White Light/White Heat to tape. “I think it was five days,” Cale has said.

Gary Kellgren, Mayfair’s house engineer, previously worked with the Velvets on part of the debut ‘Banana’ album and engineered the spring-’67 recording of Nico’s solo debut, Chelsea Girl. The producer, officially, was TomWilson, also with a track record with the group. In 1965, when the producer was still at Columbia, he invited Reed and Cale to play for him in his office. “We dragged Lou’s guitar, my viola and one amplifier up there,” said Cale. “We played Black Angel’s Death Song for him. He knew there was energy and potential.” At Mayfair, Cale mostly remembered Wilson’s “parade of beautiful girls, coming through all the time. He had an incredible style with women.”

White Light/White Heat Test Pressing
That’s the single! Test pressing of the ill-fated White Light/White Heat 45.

 

But the Velvets’ volume and aggression posed problems for the recording men, and Reed insisted that Kellgren simply walked out during Sister Ray. “At one point, he turns to us and says, ‘You do this. When you’re done, call me.’ Which wasn’t far from the record company’s attitude. Everything we did – it came out. No one censured it. Because no one listened to it.”

On Sister Ray, Reed sang live across the feral seesawing of the guitars, drums and Cale’s Vox organ as each pressed for dominance in the mix. “It was competition,” Cale says. “Everyone was hellbent on being heard.” The ending, though, was easy. “We just knew when it was over,” Morrison remembered. “It felt like ending. And it did.”

There was a real Sister Ray: “This black queen,” Reed says. “John and I were uptown, out on the street, and up comes this person – very nice, but flaming.” Reed wrote the words, a set of incidents and character studies, on a train ride from Connecticut after a bad Velvets show there. “It was a propos of nothing. ‘Duck and Sally inside’ – it’s a taste of Selby, uptown. And the music was just a jam we had been working on” – provisionally titled Searchin’, after one of the lyrics (“I’m searchin’ for my mainline”).

“The lyrics aren’t negative,” Reed argues. “White Light/White Heat – it has to do with methamphetamine. SisterRay is all about that. But they are telling you stories – and feelings. They are not stupid. And the rhythm is interesting. But you’d think that. I studied long enough.”

White Light/White Heat is renowned for its distortion and unforgiving thrust. But it also features the simple, airy yearning of Here She Comes Now, one of the Velvets’ finest ballads. And there are telling, human details even in the noise, like the breakdown at the end of White Light/White Heat, when Cale’s frantic, repetitive bass playing leaps forward in an out-of-time spasm. “I’m pretty sure it broke down,” he says of his part, “because my hand was falling off.”

White Light/White Heat Magazine Ad

Lady Godiva’s Operation was, Cale explains, “a radio-theatre piece, trying to use the studio to create this panorama of a story” – lust, transfiguration and ominously vague surgery that goes fatally wrong. The Gift was just the band and Cale’s rich Welsh intonation. Reed wrote the story – an examination of nerd-ish obsession peppered with wily minutiae (the Clarence Darrow Post Office) and ending in sudden death – at Syracuse University, for a creative writing class. Reed: “The idea was two things going at once”  Cale in one stereo channel, music in the other. “If you got tired of the words, you could just listen to the instrumental.”

Cale’s reading was a first take. The sound of the blade plunging through the cardboard, “right through the centre of Waldo Jeffers’ head,” was Reed stabbing a canteloupe with a knife. Frank Zappa, also working at Mayfair with The Mothers Of Invention, was there. “He said, ‘You’ll get a better sound if you do it this way,’” Reed recalled. “And then he says, ‘You know, I’m really surprised how much I like your album,’” referring to the ‘Banana’ LP. “Surprised? OK.” Reed smiled. “He was being friendly.”

Wayne McGuire’s ecstatic review of White Light/White Heat, in a 1968 issue of rock magazine Crawdaddy, cited Reed’s playing in “I Heard Her Call My Name” as “the most advanced lead guitar work I think you’re going to hear for at least a year or two.” McGuire also noted the jazz in there, comparing the album – especially SisterRay – to recordings by Cecil Taylor and the saxophonists John Coltrane and Albert Ayler. “Sister Ray is much like [Coltrane’s] Impressions,” McGuire wrote, “in that it is a sustained exercise in emotional stampede and modal in the deepest sense: mode as spiritual motif, mode as infinite musical universe.”.The Velvet Underground 1968

There was a single, the title track coupled with Here She Comes Now. It didn’t help. By the fall of 1968, Cale was gone. Forced to leave the group he co-founded, the Welshman embarked on a second career as a producer, composer and solo artist that continues to this day.The Velvets went back on the road, and soon into the studio, with a new bassist, Doug Yule. They found a new power in quiet and more decorative pop on their next two albums, until Reed left in 1970 to begin, eventually, his own extraordinary solo life. Live, without Cale, the Velvets still played Sister Ray.The “Deluxe” collection includes Cale’s last studio sessions with The Velvet Underground. Temptation Inside Your Heart and Stephanie Says were recorded in New York in February, 1968, produced by the band for a prospective single (according to Cale and Morrison). Temptation was their idea of a Motown dance party, with congas and comic asides caught by accident as Reed, Cale and Morrison overdubbed their male-Marvelettes harmony vocals. Stephanie Says was the first of Reed’s portrait songs, named after women in crisis and overheard conversation (Candy Says, Lisa Says, Caroline Says I and II). Cale’s viola hovered through the arrangement like another singer: graceful and comforting.

White Light/White Heat Master Tape
Original studio tape box for I Think I’m Falling In Love, aka Guess I’m Falling In Love. An instrumental outtake on the White Light/White Heat reissue, a vocal version also appears on the Live At The Gymnasium disc.
White Light/White Heat Master Tape
The original mono master tape of the White Light/White Heat album. Note correction of “Searching”, the original title of Sister Ray.

On a spare day in May, 1968, between shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Velvets returned to L.A.’s T.T.G. Studios – where they had worked on The Velvet Underground And Nico – and taped two versions of another viola feature, Hey Mr. Rain. In a 1994 interview, Cale described the song’s droning melancholy and rhythmic suspense as “trying to have a pressure cooker. That’s what those songs were about – Sister Ray, European Son [on The Velvet Underground And Nico], Hey Mr. Rain. They were things we could exploit on stage, flesh out and improvise. But we were driving it into the ground. We hadn’t spent any time quietly puttering around the way we did before the first album.”

The classic quartet cut another song at T.T.G., a recently unearthed attempt at Reed’sBeginning To See The Light. The song, briskly redone with Yule, would open Side Two of the Velvets’ third album. This take has a vintage kick – Martha & The Vandellas’ Dancing In The Street taken at the gait of I’m Waiting For The Man. You also hear the impending change. “Here comes two of you/Which one would you choose?,” Reed sings, an intimation of the cleaving that would alter the Velvets for good.

“John has said we didn’t get to finish what we started – that is sadly true,” Reed acknowledged. “However, as far as we got, that was monumental.” White Light/White Heat, everything leading to it and gathered here – “I would match it,” he says, “with anything by anybody, anywhere, ever. No group in the world can touch what we did.”

Back in 1994,  Moe Tucker was asked about the fuzz and chaos of White Light/White Heat how much they reflected the daily trials and tensions of being The Velvet Underground, always first and alone in their ideals and attack. She replied with her usual, common sense: “I don’t know if I go along with that. The songs were the songs, and the way we played them was the way we each wanted to play them.”

Anything else, she declared with a grin, was “a little too philosophical.”

“THAT WAS MONUMENTAL. I WOULD MATCH IT WITH ANYTHING BY ANYBODY, ANYWHERE, EVER. NO GROUP IN THE WORLD CAN TOUCH WHAT WE DID.”– Lou Reed

The album’s ugly and aggressive sound was an intentional reaction against the flower-power vibe of the “Summer of Love”.
When the Velvet Underground entered New York’s Mayfair Sound Studios to begin work on the album in September 1967, the vaunted “Summer of Love” was still grooving in San Francisco and blissed-out hippie scenes were something the Velvets wanted absolutely no part of. “Inspired by media hype, and encouraged by deceitful songs on the radio (Airplane, Mamas and Papas, Eric Burdon), teenage ninnies flocked from Middle-America out to the coast,” Velvets guitarist Sterling Morrison remembered in Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga’s Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story. “And so, at the height of the ‘Summer of Love,’ we stayed in NYC and recorded White Light/White Heat, an orgasm of our own.”

“It was very funny – until there were a lot of casualties,” said Lou Reed of the hippie movement in a 1987 Rolling Stone interview. “Then it wasn’t funny anymore. I don’t think a lot of people realized at the time what they were playing with. That flower-power thing eventually crumbled as a result of drug casualties and the fact that it was a nice idea but not a very realistic one. What we, the Velvets, were talking about, though it seemed like a down, was just a realistic portrayal of certain kinds of things.”

The album’s fuzzed-out guitar sounds were the direct result of the band’s endorsement deal with Vox, the British musical-equipment manufacturer.
Initially popularized in America by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and other British Invasion acts who used their amplifiers, organs and guitars, England’s Vox company struck an endorsement deal with the Velvet Underground in 1966, making Reed & Co. one of (if not the) first American bands to endorse their gear. The powerful Vox amps and fuzz pedals enabled the band to experiment with volume and distortion, which they pushed to the fullest extent on White Light/White Heat. “Those guys used Vox amps and Vox fuzz boxes for the first two albums,” Velvets obsessive Jonathan Richman explained to Bockris and Malanga. “On stuff like ‘Sister Ray’ and ‘The Gift,’ the fuzz is important. Vox fuzz bozes are distinct from other fuzz sounds. Lou used to use the built-in mid-range boost peculiar to Vox amplifiers a lot.” “White Light/White Heat was just us using the Vox amps and playing them emphatically,” added Morrison, with some degree of understatement.

Though generally thought to be about methamphetamine, “White Light/White Heat” may also have been partly inspired by Lou Reed’s interest in metaphysics.
Given Lou Reed and John Cale’s well-known affection for methamphetamine use during the Velvets’ early years, the album’s title track has long been interpreted as nothing more than an enthusiastic ode to shooting speed. But according to Richie Unterberger’s White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day by Day, Reed hinted in a November 1969 radio interview that the song may have also had something to do with his lesser-known interest in metaphysical studies. “I’ve been involved and interested in what they call ‘white light’ for a long time,” he told an interviewer at KVAN in Portland, Oregon, noting his recent investigation of a Japanese form of healing “that’s a way of giving off white light.” In the same interview, he also cited Alice Bailey’s A Treatise on White Magic – which includes instructions on how to “call down a stream of pure White Light” – calling it “an incredible book.”

Lou Reed used a cantaloupe on the album, at the urging of Frank Zappa.
On the track “The Gift,” John Cale reads a short story, written by Reed, about a lovesick young man named Waldo Jeffers, who tries to surprise his girlfriend by mailing himself to her in a large cardboard box, but meets a grisly end when her unsuspecting friend uses a sheet-metal cutter to open the package. “I wrote ‘The Gift’ while I was at college,’ Reed told Lester Bangs in a May 1971 Creem Magazine interview. “I used to write lots of short stories, especially humorous pieces like that. So. one night Cale and I were sitting around and he said, ‘Let’s put one of those stories to music.'”

In order to achieve the sound of a blade plunging through Jeffers‘ skull, Reed (depending on who’s telling the story) either stabbed a cantaloupe with a knife, or smashed it with a wrench – directed by none other than Frank Zappa, who was recording with the Mothers of Invention at the same studio. “He said, ‘You’ll get a better sound if you do it this way,'” Reed later recalled  “And then he says, ‘You know, I’m really surprised by how much I like your album.'”

“Here She Comes Now” was originally written to be sung by Nico.
A sequel to Lou Reed’s mysterious character study “Femme Fatale,” “Here She Comes Now” was originally intended as a vehicle for Nico, the German chanteuse who – at the suggestion of then-manager Andy Warhol – had sung “Femme Fatale,” “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” on the Velvet Underground’s first album. She reportedly sang “Here She Comes Now” at a few live performances, as well; and while there’s no recorded version of the song with her on vocals, it’s easy to imagine her Teutonic tones icily caressing lines like “She looks so good/But she’s made out of wood.” But after the band parted ways with both Warhol and Nico in the spring of 1967, it fell to Lou Reed to record the vocals of the song for White Light/White Heat.

Lou Reed’s guitar solo on “I Heard Her Call My Name” was a tribute to jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman.
Throughout his career, Reed often spoke about his love of free jazz, and specifically the music of saxophonist Ornette Coleman. “There were two sides of the coin for me,” he said to David Fricke in 1989. “R&B, doo-wop, rockabilly. And then Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, stuff like that. When I was in college, I had a jazz radio show. I called it Excursion on a Wobbly Rail, after a Cecil Taylor song. I used to run around the Village following Ornette Coleman wherever he played.”

Reed’s free jazz influence is apparent on several of White Light/White Heat’s tracks – especially on the vicious, mind-splitting guitar solo in “I Heard Her Call My Name,” which found him cranking up his amp and channeling his inner Coleman. “I wanted to play like that,” Reed said. “I used the distortion to connect the notes, so you didn’t hear me hesitating and thinking. … I never thought of it as violent. I thought it was amazing fun.”

A studio engineer was so put off by “Sister Ray” that he actually left the studio while it was being recorded.
Clocking in at 17-and-a-half minutes on record – and often much longer in concert – the tawdry epic “Sister Ray” was one of Andy Warhol’s favorite songs from the Velvet Underground’s live sets. “When we were making the second record,” Lou Reed “He said, ‘Now you gotta make sure that you do the ‘sucking on my ding-dong’ song.’ ‘Okay, Andy.’ He was a lot of fun, he really was.”

However, one of the engineers working on White Light/White Heat  either Gary Kellgren or Val Valentine, both of whom worked on the record in an engineering capacity was far less amused when the band was recording the improvisatory track in the studio. In Anthony DeCurtis’ Lou Reed: A Life, Reed recounts that, “When we recorded ‘Sister Ray,’ the engineer stood up and said, ‘Listen, I’m leaving. You can’t pay me enough to listen to this crap. I’ll be down in the commissary getting coffee. When you’re done, hit that button and come get me.’ That’s completely true.”

Producer Tom Wilson spent more time chasing women than actually overseeing the album.
Though White Light/White Heat producer Tom Wilson who had also helmed albums by Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Mothers of Invention – had previously worked with the Velvets on The Velvet Underground and Nico, the band wasn’t always thrilled with his involvement (or lack thereof) during the sessions for White Light/White Heat. “He knew more, uh, ladies of the night than there are women on this planet,” John Cale recalled to Creem in 1987. “He’s a swinger par excellence. It was unbelievable, a constant parade into that studio. He was inspired, though, and used to joke around to keep everybody in the band light.” Velvets drummer Moe Tucker was particularly incensed when Wilson became too distracted by what she described as “the blondes running through the studio” to remember to turn up the microphones on her drums during a specific break in “Sister Ray.” “I could have killed myself,” she later complained to the Velvet Underground fanzine What Goes On. “‘Cause we did two takes of that as I recall, and it came out nice, it was really good, and here’s this part that drops out the bottom. I was tapping on the rim, and it wasn’t recorded. And of course everybody thinks that I stopped playing the drums, which infuriates me.”

The album’s cover art was a “parting gift” from Andy Warhol.
When the Velvets and Andy Warhol parted ways shortly after the release of The Velvet Underground & Nico, the split wasn’t exactly an amicable one. “He sat down and had a talk with me,” Lou Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. “[He said] ‘You gotta decide what you want to do. Do you want to keep just playing museums from now on and the art festivals? Or do you want to start moving into other areas? Lou, don’t you think you should think about it?’ So I thought about it, and I fired him. Because I thought that was one of the things to do if we were going to move away from that. He was furious. I’d never seen Andy angry, but I did that day. He was really mad. Called me a rat. That was the worst thing he could think of.”

But by the end of 1967, Warhol’s anger had subsided enough for him to suggest an idea for the design of White Light/White Heat’s album cover. According to a December 1967 letter from Lou Reed to Gerard Malanga, it was Warhol’s idea to use “a black-on-black picture of a motorcyclist tattoo by Billy [Name]. Beautiful. ALL BLACK!” Reed had seen the tattoo in question on the bicep of actor Joe Spencer in Warhol’s film Bike Boy; and with Warhol’s permission, Factory artist Billy Name blew up a black-and-white negative frame from the film and set it against a black background, creating a cover that was the very antithesis of the psychedelic, Sgt. Pepper–inspired imagery that was everywhere at the time.

“White Light/White Heat” and “Here She Comes Now” were banned in several radio markets because of their content.
Though the songs “White Light/White Heat” and “Here She Comes Now” sounded like nothing else on the American airwaves in late 1967, Verve, the band’s label, decided to release the songs – the two shortest cuts on White Light/White Heat – to radio on a seven-inch single. Unsurprisingly, the single stiffed, and so few were even pressed that original copies now change hands for hundreds of dollars. But while the songs had little commercial appeal to begin with, members of the band would claim on several occasions that they had actually been banned – the raging “White Light/White Heat” because of its drug references, and the quieter “Here She Comes Now” due to what some programmers perceived as sexual content. “We put out ‘Here She Comes Now’ in San Francisco and they said, ‘That’s about a girl coming,'” Reed recalled. “And I said, ‘Well no, it’s not, it’s about somebody coming into a room.’ And then I listened to the record and I realized it probably was about a girl coming as a matter of fact, but then again, so what? But we were banned again.”

WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT REISSUE VINYL, DELUXE & SUPER DELUXE EDITIONS

White Light/White Heat Deluxe Edition

“NO ONE LISTENED TO IT. BUT THERE IT IS, FOREVER – THE QUINTESSENCE OF ARTICULATED PUNK. AND NO ONE GOES NEAR IT.”Lou Reed, August, 2013,
Thanksto David Fricke and Mojo Magazine for words

In 1973, Lou Reed hired the grandest band of his career, led by guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner. Their joint power gave the Velvet Underground classics emphasized in the set a heavy-metal girth, as well as a glam-rock grandeur. It’s captured in a 1974 live recording from a show the band gave at New York’s Academy of Music the year before. The performance is distinguished as much by the Hunter/Wagner dynamic as any vocal or composition from the star. The zenith actually arrives at the start: a three minute and twenty second intro to “Sweet Jane”  written by Hunter. It’s one of the boldest rock instrumentals of all time, anointed with an unfolding variety of righteous riffs, broken by solo spots for Hunter and Wagner. Throughout their set, Lou Reed gave the pair a wide berth, capped by a ten-minute take on “Rock ‘N Roll” that idealizes the song’s anthemic aspirations.

Hunter and Wagner dominate the set right from the start, with their mazy, melodic licks in the Intro seaming into the monster chords of Sweet Jane. Heroin is a slow burning epic, building up momentum into some blazing dual guitar interplay. Whilst White Light/White Heat is somewhat underpowered after such a start, the pace picks up again with Lady Day and the soaring closer Rock ‘n’ Roll, featuring more dazzling interplay between the leads.

The guitarists went on to enjoy a central spot in Alice Cooper’s solo group, idealizing the double guitar approach forged by Alice’s original band in the ’60s.

A remastered version was released on CD in 2000. It featured two tracks not included on the original LP release.

Further excerpts from the same concert were released in 1975 as Lou Reed Live (between the remastered Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal and Lou Reed Live the entire show has been released, albeit in a different order than the original concert). This live album’s stereo mix puts guitarist Dick Wagner on the right channel, and Steve Hunter on the left; this arrangement is reversed on Lou Reed Live.

Rock n Roll Animal is a live album by musician Lou Reed, released in February 1974 by RCA Records. In its original form, it only features five songs, four of which are songs by the Velvet Underground. The band were Pentti Glan (drums) and Prakash John(bass), Ray Colcord (keyboards), along with the twin guitars of  Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter  (The two guitarists would later form the basis of the second Alice Cooper band, beginning on Welcome to My Nightmare, which also features Glan and John.

For the Velvet Underground completist This 2017 release (not to be confused with 1969 Live) compiles 1969-era Velvet Underground classics, including some rare mixes, instrumentals and alternate takes on official vinyl for the first time. Lou ReedDoug YuleSterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker spent much of their time on the road in ’69 resulting in the “lost” live album 1969 Live. Several original 1969 mixes from this era are featured here including “Foggy Notion,” “I’m Sticking with You,” “Andy’s Chest,” “I’m Gonna Move Right In,” and “Ocean,” as well as 2014 mixes of “One of These Days,” “Lisa Says,” and more. Double vinyl pressing from Republic Records,

This definitive vinyl edition of VU’s ‘lost’ fourth album presents one cohesive collection on two LPs, with many tracks and mixes making their vinyl debut. You’ll hear the original 1969 mixes of “Foggy Notion,” “I’m Sticking with You,” “Andy’s Chest,” “She’s My Best Friend,” “I’m Gonna Move Right In,” “Ferryboat Bill,” “Ocean,” “Rock & Roll,” 2014 mixes of “One of These Days,” “Lisa Says,” “Ride into the Sun,” “Coney Island Steeplechase” and more precious original recordings of an iconic band. The Velvet Underground formed in 1964 in New York City by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise (replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965).

Towards the end of Talking Heads’ career, all four members of the band gathered in the studio with Lou Reed to record the Velvets’ “Femme Fatale.” The result came out on a Tom Tom Club LP (Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom), but the credits sure read like Talking Heads + Lou: Tina Weymouth on bass and keyboard, Chris Frantz on drums, Jerry Harrison on keys, David Byrne on slide and rhythm guitar, and Lou Reed on lead and rhythm guitar. Weymouth sings Nico’s part and everyone else joins in on backup vocals.

Rolling Stone reported news of the NYC supersession in 1987. It provided the happy ending to “Are Four (Talking) Heads Better Than One?,” a profile that suggested the foursome was held together with Scotch tape and chewing gum, and contained some bons mots from Lou:

Back in earlier, calmer days, the band looked to Lou Reed as a sort of patron saint. He doled out advice like “Get some dynamics in your songs” or “David should wear a long-sleeved shirt – his arms are too hairy.” And more profound warnings, which the band still remembers today. Chris: “Lou Reed once told us, ‘Man, I’ve gotta go out on tour again. People want to view the body.’” Tina: “He told us, ‘A band is like a fist of many fingers. Whereas record companies like to ego-massage one finger and break it off.’”

The Byrne/Frantz/Harrison/Reed/Weymouth “Femme Fatale”: